Sure, we've all listened to chefs extol the virtue of Kobe beef — its flavor, its tenderness, etc. But one writer argues that you've probably never had real Japanese Kobe beef... at least in the United States.
"Under Japanese law, Kobe beef can only came from Hyogo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital city), where no slaughterhouses were approved for export by the USDA," Larry Olmstead writes on Forbes.
So basically, those Kobe beef sliders are probably from the Midwest, Great Plains, South America, or Australia. Before 2010, it may have been Japanese beef, but not from Kobe. And now, it is illegal to import or hand-carry Japanese beef.
The only reason Kobe beef is still on the menu, Olmstead says, is because while "Kobe Beef, Kobe Meat, and Kobe Cattle," are patented trademarks in Japan, U.S. law doesn't recognize or protect the terms. So really, tacking on "Kobe" to anything doesn't mean anything. Those bistro menus are lying to you.
Real Japanese Kobe beef is apparently only available in Japan and in Macau, Olmstead says. The only way to eat real Kobe beef in the U.S. is if somebody smuggled it in; let us know if you know a guy.